In September, the Obama Administration and many Republicans were pushing for the U.S. to intervene in Syria. I said no.
We did not have an articulable national security interest in that country, and it was also unclear if we had any discernible allies in that nation’s civil war.
Five months prior, my colleagues in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly to arm the Syrian rebels who were opposing Bashar al-Assad. I warned that the weapons we gave extremists could be used against Christians in the region. I warned that weapons we gave to extremists in Syria could one day potentially be used against our ally Israel.
Almost a year ago to the day, I admonished the Committee for that vote. I told them, “This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al-Qaeda.”
“It’s an irony you cannot overcome,” I added.
On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reported: “One of the militant Syrian rebel groups provided access to advanced U.S. missiles said that it is seeking ‘the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel,’ a stance that could potentially complicate U.S. military support to the armed rebel group.”
Giving missiles, tanks, and other advanced weaponry to extremist groups who think portions of Israel belong to Syria is problematic to say the least.
But this turn of events should not surprise anyone.
Last September, Syrian rebels groups assaulted historic Christian villages, threatening to kill anyone who refused to convert to Islam. Last June, USA Today reported that Syrian rebel groups were pledging their loyalty to al-Qaeda. In January, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said al-Qaeda affiliated Syrian rebel groups were planning to attack the U.S.
How many examples or lessons do we need to determine that arming the Syrian rebels is not in, and may in fact be against, our national interest?
As the Washington Free Beacon reported, “‘This is precisely the problem we’ve faced in arming the Syrian opposition,’ said terrorism analyst Patrick Poole. ‘Despite repeated promises that we would only arm ‘vetted rebels’ there’s no confidence that anyone in the U.S. government has any idea who they’re dealing with or what their agenda might be.'”
The Assad regime is a brutal dictatorship that is an affront to all humanity. But so are many of the groups opposing it. There is simply no U.S. ally in this tragic war.
Washington has a bad habit of thinking that for every conflict abroad, the U.S. must do something. But sometimes these civil wars are simply not our fight. Sometimes “doing something” is far worse than doing nothing.
That America is arming extremists who target Christians, who target the U.S., and now target Israel should be all the evidence we need to stop this type of military aid to that war-torn country.
“We are for the return of all Syrian land occupied by Israel,” now says rebel leader Al-Sa’oud, whose Division 13 has access to advanced U.S. missiles.
I told my fellow Senators a year ago that arming the allies of al-Qaeda would be an irony they would not overcome.